31 Jan, 2014
Posted by Raphael in Reviews
Bloggerinos! We here at Midtown enjoy any opportunity to see characters return to the pages of comics, and Red Circle has made it’s comeback. The imprint was created by Archie and is now back in their hands. I had the opportunity to read The Fox and it’s an unconventional, unusual story, one that is a welcome change of pace for comics in general, and a good example of high quality work that can help Red Circle thrive in the industry. I also had the opportunity to ask the creative team of the Fox, Dean Haspiel and Mark Waid, some questions about the series.
1) Red Circle is back! What was your previous experience with these characters? Were you fans of the original run?
Dean Haspiel: I was first introduced to The Fox in the mid to early 1980s, when I picked up a Black Hood comic, and the back-up feature was a Fox story done by Alex Toth. I’ve always liked the way The Fox looked with his minimal costume and floppy ears. And I think part of it was because the guy had no super powers, and I wanted to explore what makes a seemingly rational guy wear a crime fighting costume under his normal clothes.
Mark Waid: I was familiar with the character since I was a kid who researched old superheroes while all the other kids were outside playing ball, but, like for Dean, it was Toth who put him on the map for me.
2) What brought you to this project?
Dean Haspiel: Growing up reading superhero comics, I sometimes thought about protecting lives but I wasn’t crazy enough to be a vigilante and I wasn’t brave enough to become a cop. Instead, I wrote and drew some of the stuff I experienced and filtered my feelings about sacrifice and heroism into my fiction. In a way, I can sympathize how The Fox could happen and he’s easy to relate to. I had created a character called “The Red Hook” that was semi-inspired by The Fox. Instead of being a blue suit it was a red suit, it had floppy ears, and that kind of stuff, and instead of being a crime fighter, he was a super thief.
Then a writer pal of mine, Vito Delsante, was showing me a six page Black Hood story he had done with an artist. I was saying, “Wait a minute! Is Archie bringing back those Red Circle heroes?” So he said to me, “Yeah, there’s other people that say they’re going to bring back some of the other characters.” With that in mind, I asked if I could send his editor, Paul Kaminski, my Red Hook story, to kind of know if I could do a back-up feature or something with The Fox. I sent it to Paul, Paul dug it. I pitched him a six-page Fox story, and he liked it so much when I was finished with it, that he actually offered me to do a mini-series. Plus, who better to match wits with than Mark Waid, who arguably is writing the best comics of his life right now?
Mark Waid: Dino is a longtime friend and we’ve been looking for a collaborative gig forever, and when he went after this as plotter/artist, he asked me along to dialogue and kibitz from the sidelines, and I was happy to! We’ve had a lot of good, long talks about the character, the stories and the overall craft of comics! Haspiel’s a dream collaborator, man. It’s also great to get the chance to reintroduce the readers to a streamlined, resonant version of the hero I love — something dramatic but sometimes swashbuckling, serious but sometimes humorous, and relevant without being the least bit cynical. It’s also fun because it all comes down to the same approach — figure out what the core concept is, what the core elements are, and build off those. Find some thematic resonance without taking it too seriously that it feels like homework. And remembering what I like about the character and showing you that.
3) The Fox is a zanier character than your typical hero, what made you decide to take this direction?
Dean Haspiel: I was going through my archives, for some of the story ideas I had, and honestly, I’ve always remained true to this particular Fox story that we’re doing right now — it’s a cross between Apocalypse Now and The Island of Lost Souls, or The Island of Dr. Moreau. But really, it was my own personal pitch of what would happen if John Carter, Conan, The Shadow, Doc Savage, and Green Hornet were in a story together.
Mark Waid: I used to say that you can always tell, when you write these characters — they’ve been around, they’ve been established, and you look at what makes them work, and you look at the basics of the character, and in this case — I think I actually did more of this than I have previously — is his internal narration. He tends to think of everything like a reporter. He tends to think of everything like a photographer. I think I had that line about how he’s trying to adapt the environment around him, so he uses his photographer skills of observing the landscape and trying to figure out how that’s going to work to his advantage, as if he were taking a snapshot. And, while the story is set in modern times, it’ll have a certain timeless quality. It’s not a retro piece, but it is a chance for us to really cut loose and not worry about realism so much.
And there you have it! Both creators have extensive resumes, and are extremely talented. The Fox is definitely worth checking out, and is a fun book that brings a little bit of wonder and a bit of swashbuckling back into comics. I like comics in general, but that sense of adventure you got from earlier comics is kind of hard to find nowadays, especially characters with long established histories. Dean Haspiel and Mark Waid have captured that nostalgic feel, and I wouldn’t mind seeing it more often. Not everything has to be nitty, gritty or world-ending… sometimes it’s ok to have some fun. I’ll be keeping an eye out for Red Circle’s other releases in the future, and I think it might be worth your time to do so also.
Until Next Time